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After 10 months of deliberation and "practice" for the upcoming "program," it will be show time April 1 for the future of the Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) in downtown Sarasota. Its 30-year tenure expires in two years. Without an extension approved by both the City and County commissions, the CRA will cease to exist on Sept. 30, 2016. After 10 months of deliberation, an ad hoc committee appointed by the two commis- sions will make its report on Tuesday. The top recommendation is to extend the life of the CRA another 30 years. The CRA is funded with a property tax scheme giving the city nearly $7 million per year to fight "slum and blight" downtown. In its ear- liest days, the CRA devoted 95 percent of the money to "brick and mortar projects," but over the past five years, that fraction is down to 55 percent. Taking up the difference has been "enhanced redevelopment services" in the area, up from zero in the first five years to 29 percent in the past five. The "services" include $1 million for police patrols. During their second joint meeting in five years, the Newtown and Downtown Sarasota Community Redevelopment Area Advisory Boards on March 20 unanimously endorsed the recommendations of an ad hoc committee to extend the CRA another 30 years. Photo by Stan Zimmerman ON APRIL 1, THE CITY AND COUNTY COMMISSIONS WILL HEAR A REPORT RECOMMENDING THE EXTENSION OF THE DOWNTOWN SARASOTA COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY THE SHOWDOWN By Stan Zimmerman City Editor

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